Friday, October 30, 2015

Wine & Bowties Announces Feels IV Lineup

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 10:11 AM

Though Feels III took place in July, Oakland bloggers-turned-party-throwers Wine & Bowties are back at it with another installment of the mini music and arts festival, Feels IV, which takes place November 28, 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., at American Steel Studios (1960 Mandela Pkwy., Oakland). 

The previous edition featured indoor and outdoor stages and included memorable performances by local rappers Tia Nomore and Ezale, as well as the Odd Future-affiliated neo-soul sextet, The Internet. Iamsu!, who happened to be in the audience, flitted around on a "hoverboard" throughout the night. Young, up-and-coming artists packed the walls of American Steel's spacious warehouse with artwork in a variety of media.

At Feels IV, you can expect a similar audiovisual rager. This time, performers include Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth, LA-based rapper Antwon (who got his start in the Oakland music scene), Atlanta R&B songstress ABRA, Oakland punk band Meat Market, and soulful Richmond singer Rayana Jay. Local electro pop musician and visual artist Sofia Cordova, aka Xuxa Santamaria, will perform and show her artwork in the gallery portion of the event. In addition, local DJs Neto 187, MoreVibe$, Namaste Shawty, DJ Dials, and others will keep the party going until late. 

For the complete list of performers and visual artists, check out the Feels IV Facebook event

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Halloween Weekend Event Guide

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Whether you're dressing up as Drake, Bernie Sanders, or Libby Schaaf's snailmobile this Halloween, you're going to need something to do in your costume. Here's our guide to the top Halloween events in the East Bay this weekend. 

14th Annual Murder Ballads Bash
Crimes of passion have been lyrical fodder for musicians across different genres and generations, so what better night to listen to music with a penchant for bloodlust than Halloween? The Starry Plough presents its 14th annual Murder Ballads Bash, a showcase of local bands and singer-songwriters whose work delves into dark and potentially frightful themes of revenge, misery, and despair. In the large lineup, readers may recognize Dennis D (who hosts a banjo night at Stork Club on Sundays), The Happy Clams (whose members have been active in the East Bay punk scene since the Eighties), veteran rockers Roy Loney & Larry, and country quintet Loretta Lynch. We suggest dressing up for this one, too. Costume ideas: Velma Kelly or Roxie Hart from Chicago, Bonnie and Clyde, zombie Elvis, or Rihanna in the “Bitch Better Have My Money” video. — Nastia Voynovskaya
Sat., Oct. 31, 9 p.m. $8-$15.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Oakland Organizations Team Up To Tell Migrant Stories

CultureStrike, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, and Betti Ono Gallery are behind the mural installation event.

by Gillian Edevane
Fri, Oct 23, 2015 at 4:03 PM

Next week,the pro-migrant arts nonprofit CultureStrike will be teaming up with Betti Ono Gallery and Mujeres Unidas y Activas to install a wheat paste featuring images from its powerful Visions From The Inside project. The installation event is open to the public at Betti Ono Gallery at 6-9 p.m. on Monday, October 26.
Artwork by Favianna Rodriguez for Visions from the Inside.
  • Artwork by Favianna Rodriguez for Visions from the Inside.

As East Bay Express previously reported, Culture Strike's Visions From The Inside project facilitated creative collaboration between detained immigrant women and children and artists. Each artist was paired with a detainee, and the two worked together through letters to create an image evocative of the detainee's experience. 

Artistic Manager of CultureStrike Julio Salgado was inspired to create Visions From The Inside after visiting a detention center in Arizona. While there, he noticed how dependent the detainees were on letter-writing, which was one of the only forms of authorized communication.  "For folks who are in detention, writing letters is so necessary," Salgado said in an earlier interview. "It's the one thing that they can use to communicate with organizations that will help them with their cases."

Many of the resulting images speak to themes of longing, entrapment, and loss of autonomy. All of the artwork can be viewed online, along with the letters that inspired them,  at

Folks who come out to help install the mural will be given a platform to share their experiences with the prison industrial complex or immigration centers, as well. Event organizers are planning on putting the stories of attendees together in a video similar to the one below, which documents the installation of a mural designed by Culture Strike artists Julio Salgado and Susa Cortez in the Mission district of San Francisco.

And here's the event flyer to get you pumped. 
  • Courtesy CultureStrike

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This Weekend's Top Five Events

October 23, 24 & 25

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Oct 23, 2015 at 7:02 AM

You made it to the weekend! Now you can make like Drake did this week, and let loose like no one is watching. Here's five great ways how:

  • Courtesy TURFInc
The Purge 2
Defined by its intricate footwork, nuanced upper body movements, acrobatic stunts, and liquefied flow, turf dancing is a method of movement that Oakland can claim all its own. Born out of the city’s streets some two decades ago, the dance style has experienced a renaissance in recent years, in large part thanks to TURFInc, an organization devoted to preserving the style’s legacy and continued relevance. While turf dancing, which is an acronym for “Taking Up Room on the dance Floor,” has its own unique style, TURFInc founder and CEO Johnny Lopez included the “Inc” as a reference to incorporating other dance styles, which often include crumping, bonebreaking, cutting, jookin, boogaloo (another Oakland original), tutting, waacking, strutting, and flexing. In collaboration with Oaktown Indie Mayhem, TURFInc is hosting the second annual “Purge” at the Starline Social Club (645 W. Grand Ave., Oakland) on October 24. The Halloween-themed dance battle will pit the best Bay Area crews against each other for a chance to win prizes and, of course, bragging rights. — Erin Baldassari
Sat., Oct. 24, 1:30-8:30 p.m. $15, $20.

If You Should Lose Me
In the early 1930s, Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas recorded some of the most legendary masterpieces of prewar American music, and yet there is virtually no available information about them. Recordings of their music are even rarer. But the influence of their lyrics and their sound has managed to linger in Blues ever since. Writer and Yale professor Daphne Brooks has been researching the duo, the ways in which music history managed to overlook them, and what that says about how Black women’s voices are heard — and not heard — in the United States. On October 23, Brooks will talk about that work in a lecture titled “If You Should Lose Me: The Archive, the Critic, the Record Shop, and the Blues Woman” at UC Berkeley as part of a series of talks called “The Black Room: Revisiting ‘Blackness’ in the Global 21st Century” organized by a cohort of Cal professors. Brooks is known mostly for her sharp writing on race, performance, and the intersection of those two things. She’s currently writing a book entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women Sound Modernity, forthcoming from Harvard University Press. For more “Black Room” events, email to join the mailing list. — Sarah Burke
Fri., Oct. 23, 12:30-2 p.m. Free.

  • Patchwork Show.
Patchwork Show: Modern Makers Festival
The boutique craft fair season is already upon us. To kick off the next few months of winding through aisles of fashionable vendors to find the perfect handmade goods for your relatives, The Patchwork Show: Modern Makers Festival will be in Oakland on October 25. The event is a free fair curated by Dear Handmade Life, featuring local emerging artists, crafters, and designers, as well as artisanal food vendors, gourmet food trucks, live music, and craft workshops. The Patchwork Show takes place bi-annually in cities across California. This season, it will take place locally in Jack London Square (55 Harrison St., Oakland) from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Last year’s festival offerings ranged from “Bacon Balsamic Bourbon” jelly to hand-forged brass jewelry. It’s an opportunity to get a head start on the hectic holiday season and escape corporate consumerism while you’re at it. — S.B.
Sat., Oct. 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free.

From Oakland, with Love
If you’ve been reading about the Syrian refugee crisis and have wondered what you might do to help, here is one small way: On Sunday, Doña Tomas (5004 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) will host a benefit to raise money for the International Rescue Committee and the Migrant Offshore Aid Station. The fundraiser was organized by Sahar Shirazi, a planner at the governor’s office by day, and also an accomplished cook who has done catering gigs and popups for several years, including Domingo Gigante, a now-defunct brunch popup at Doña Tomas. Shirazi is still tweaking Sunday’s menu, but a selection of passed hors d’oeuvres should include pumpkin soup and Persian potato pancakes. Doña Tomas, Pizzaiolo, and other local restaurants will donate additional food, and a slew of other eateries — including Duende, Juhu Beach Club, Comal, and Camino — have donated gift certificates for a silent auction. — Luke Tsai
Sun., Oct. 25, 5:30-9:30 p.m. $15 donation.

Georgianna Krieger’s "Memory."
  • Georgianna Krieger’s "Memory."
Yearbook: The 12th Anniversary Exhibit
When it opened in 2003, Joyce Gordon Gallery (406 14th St., Oakland) was one of just a few galleries in Oakland, and it has outlived most of its peers from that era. Now, it maintains a strong foothold in the downtown Oakland art scene, and after a dozen years, it’s set apart by its own legacy. To celebrate the gallery’s twelfth anniversary, curator Eric Murphy looks back on highlights from its past in Yearbook: The 12th Anniversary Exhibit. The show features sixteen artists who have showed at the gallery — many of whom have only joined the gallery in the past two years, and were thus not included in its tenth anniversary show. Yearbook includes pieces from Bryan Keith Thomas’ show earlier this year, Heirloom, and work from last year’s Emory Douglas: Artist for the People. Other highlights include Alice Beasley’s exquisite representational quilts and Georgianna Krieger’s dreamlike cast glass sculptures. — S.B.
Through Oct. 31. Free.

If your pockets are feelin' light and you're still yearning for more suggestions, we've got a ton, and these ones are all FREE! We're Hungry: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Feed us at

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Video Premiere: J. Stalin Reflects on Gun Violence in "Face Shots"

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 5:00 PM

J. Stalin has been extremely prolific in Oakland's rap scene since the hyphy movement, and is gearing up to drop his fourth full-length of 2015 alone. A disciple of mob music, Stalin has made a name for himself with his hard-edged street anthems. However, his forthcoming project, Tears of Joy — which comes out on October 30 through Empire Distribution — exposes the rapper's contemplative side, with brooding, cinematic tracks that reflect on the dark sides of hustling and the ways fatherhood has changed his priorities. 

J. Stalin sent the Express an exclusive premiere of the music video for his new single, "Face Shots," a somber track that samples dark piano and soulful vocals. In a phone interview, Stalin said that he wrote the lyrics after his friend survived a gunshot to the face. The shocking incident was a wakeup call to the rapper, who said that he feels frustrated about the fact that gun violence has affected countless Oakland residents whose stories have gone untold.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Autumn Lights Festival Dazzled Oakland

by Erin Baldassari
Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 1:23 PM

If you could get through the long line, the Oakland Autumn Lights Festival dazzled with both large- and small-scale light installations woven into the greenery at the Gardens at Lake Merritt.

Treasure Island: From Electrifying Collaborations to Forgettable Muzak

FKA Twigs, Shamir, and Big Grams’ performances saved Treasure Island Music Festival from becoming a snoozefest of easily digestible indie rock.

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 12:14 PM

FKA Twigs coupled her operatic singing with tense choreography. - KEVIN FRANCIS BARRETT
  • Kevin Francis Barrett
  • FKA Twigs coupled her operatic singing with tense choreography.

Treasure Island Music Festival is typically curated to appeal to two different crowds: Saturday spotlights electronic and pop artists, while Sunday consists of mellow indie rock. However, each year, this dualistic paradigm feels increasingly outdated.

The year 2015 saw a great deal of fascinating cross-genre collaborations in pop: Miley Cyrus dropped a self-released album with credits from Ariel Pink and Mike Will Made It; Skrillex and Diplo’s production resuscitated Justin Bieber’s career; Usher put out an anti-police brutality anthem with Nas. Yet instead of taking a cue from these boundary-pushing shifts in the music industry, this year’s festival stuck to the same structure of past editions. As a result, it sequestered its best and most progressive artists to the first day and ended with a monotonous series of similar-sounding bands on the second.

To its credit, though, Treasure Island featured on Saturday several stand-out musicians who were innovative enough to redeem the festival from its structural shortcomings. FKA Twigs was one such forward-thinking performer. The British singer-songwriter dazzled a rapt audience with her operatic singing and theatrical stage show, in which every visual and sonic element seemed meticulously planned — down to the way her corseted outfit interacted with the fractured, white-and-red spotlights illuminating the stage. Twigs’ band consisted of three musicians who struck their sample pads like war drums with grand gestures that matched the singer’s vocal intensity and moody, alchemical beats.

Twigs’ lyrics probe the overlap between pleasure and discomfort and examine the elemental psychology of desire. She conveyed the polarity of her work with tense choreography, including two duets that were simultaneously erotic and adversarial. Though she was in constant motion throughout the show, her crystalline voice hit precariously high notes as she built upon familiar tracks with expansive, architectural vocal arrangements.
Big Boi of OutKast performed with his new group, Big Grams. - KEVIN FRANCIS BARRETT
  • Kevin Francis Barrett
  • Big Boi of OutKast performed with his new group, Big Grams.

The event also featured savvy collaborations among established artists taking their sounds in new directions. Big Grams, which followed Twigs’ set, is the joint project of Big Boi from OutKast and electronic pop duo Phantogram. As fans of OutKast know well, Big Boi’s boisterous flow works well over upbeat song structures that lend his rap style a pop sensibility. While Phantograms’ saccharine, synth-driven production certainly achieves this effect, one couldn't help but think that at the beginning of Big Grams’ set, Sarah Barthel’s singing felt superfluous and that the performance would have been better with Big Boi's vocals alone. However, eventually, the trio found its groove. While Big Grams’ appeal is largely predicated on Big Boi’s status as a legend, it’s refreshing to see him work with a younger, lesser-known band instead of rehashing old hits.

Run the Jewels, the rap duo composed of veteran rappers El-P and Killer Mike, briefly joined Big Grams on stage for a high-energy duet. Like Big Boi, El-P and Killer Mike have been involved in the hip-hop industry for decades. As Run the Jewels, they’ve adopted a more electronic sound and garnered a younger fan base. Run the Jewels’ set, which took place earlier in the day, invigorated the crowd with fast, wobbly, UK grime-influenced beats that complemented the two rappers’ rapid-fire spitting. However, El-P often failed to enunciate clearly and much of his lyrics were lost in favor of the showy technique. Killer Mike, with his booming baritone, carried the set with his superior vocal skills and stage presence. Plus, he did shout outs to the late Oakland rap legend The Jacka and basketball champ Steph Curry, eliciting enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.

Up-and-coming singer-songwriter Shamir also delivered one of the first day’s most inspired performances. His soulful, androgynous voice soared over spunky, percussive rhythms with disco and Afrobeat influences. Sitting still during his show was impossible.

While Saturday’s lineup featured diverse artists — not only in terms of sound, but race, gender, and age, as well — Sunday’s lacked variety. With the exception of Chvrches, Ex Hex, Lower Dens, and Jose Gonzalez, the rest of the day’s bands featured exclusively white, male musicians, which attracted an audience of a similar demographic makeup. As one of the Bay Area’s largest music festivals, it was a shame that Treasure Island didn’t do more to appeal to a broader cross-section of the local population. 

Chvrches got the crowd moving with its synth-driven electro pop. - KEVIN FRANCIS BARRETT
  • Kevin Francis Barrett
  • Chvrches got the crowd moving with its synth-driven electro pop.

The different bands’ aesthetics weren’t too different from one another either, with Lower Dens, Father John Misty, and The War on Drugs’ sets blending into a haze of palatable indie rock. Drive Like Jehu, a 1990s post-hardcore band, was the only group that jolted the audience awake with its feisty shredding. Meanwhile, other performers failed to elicit an enthusiastic response. The bandleaders of Deerhunter and Chvrches wondered aloud why the large audience was so quiet, although Chvrches eventually got people moving with its new wave-influenced synth pop. The National, a Brooklyn rock band with a lengthy, influential discography dating back to 1999, ended the night with a somewhat forgettable performance that would have made fitting background music at Whole Foods or Starbucks.  

Correction: An earlier version of this post failed to list Lower Dens as one of the bands not composed entirely of white, male musicians.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

This Weekend's Top Five Events

October 16, 17 & 18

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Oct 16, 2015 at 7:00 AM

It's not quite Halloween, not yet Veteran's Day, and not Thanksgiving just yet. But it is the weekend. So here's five ways to celebrate that.  

FKA Twigs
  • FKA Twigs
Treasure Island Music Festival
The time has come to ride the giant, glowing Ferris wheel that shows up in San Francisco every year: Treasure Island Music Festival is here once again. While this year’s headliners — indie rockers The National and EDM producer deadmau5 — might seem unremarkable to frequent festivalgoers (deadmau5 played TIMF in 2010 and The National, Outside Lands in 2013), the lineup features many up-and-coming artists and innovative acts worth getting excited about. On Saturday, British singer-songwriter FKA Twigs — whose recent EP and extended music video, M3LL155X, skillfully interrogated gender stereotypes through its disquieting lyrics and visuals — is one of the event’s must-see artists. As is Big Grams, the new pop-rap collaboration between Big Boi from OutKast and electropop duo Phantogram. On Big Grams’ self-titled debut album, Big Boi and Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel interweave twangy rhymes and syrupy hooks over effervescent, shoegaze-influenced production. Their set should make for a playful, genre-defying live show. Also, TIMF features a lineup of comedians in its stand-up tent, The Blah Blah Blah, which online comedy platform Funny or Die curated. Tim Heidecker of the infamously grotesque, surrealist comedy duo Tim & Eric (of Adult Swim fame) will perform there, along with many other humorists. — Nastia Voynovskaya
Sat., Oct. 17, 12 p.m. and Sun., Oct. 18, 12 p.m.$95+.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

This Weekend's Top Seven Events

October 9, 10 & 11

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Oct 9, 2015 at 7:00 AM

This Saturday, the Life is Living festival will be overwhelming deFremery Park with spoken word showcases, the world's longest Soul Train line, six hours of outdoor theater, and more — all for free. But if that doesn't tickle your fancy, we've got an extra hefty seven recommendations of other activities to keep you busy in the East Bay this weekend. 

Young Thug.
  • Young Thug.
Young Thug
Young Thug has elevated mumbling to an art form, and his often indiscernible, melodic flows set him apart as one of today’s most innovative rappers. Controversy follows the young MC, who became embroiled in a beef between his mentors, Birdman and Lil Wayne, earlier this year. Lil Wayne objected when Young Thug originally announced that he would call his April mixtape Carter 6. The title choice seemed particularly trollish considering that Lil Wayne and Birdman were at odds over the release date of Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter V on Birdman’s Cash Money Records. (Tha Carter V never actually came out.) Thug acquiesced and renamed his tape Barter 6. When it dropped, the project was an instant hit among fans and music critics, and proved to be a testament to the rapper’s unique gift for weaving melodies from unusual cadences and seemingly discordant vocal flourishes. He further developed Barter’s stripped down aesthetic on his subsequent tape, September’s Slime Season, which balances Thug’s over-the-top flows with London on da Track’s sparse, minor-key production. He performs at Regency Ballroom in San Francisco this Saturday. — Nastia Voynovskaya
Sat., Oct. 10, 9 p.m. $30, $32.


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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Performance Artist King Saturn Premieres Debut Single and Music Video

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Wed, Oct 7, 2015 at 5:32 PM

King Saturn.
  • King Saturn.

Those who frequent Bay Area queer parties may recognize King Saturn (aka Saturn Jones) from his colorful dance performances, which feature high-energy, vogue-inspired choreography and avant-garde costumes that often include leather harnesses, collars, fishnets, and neon hair extensions. While he got his start as a dancer — and has opened for artists such as Le1f and Big Freedia — Saturn has pop ambitions and has been incorporating original music into his recent stage shows. 

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